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Validation Market Desirability and Useability of Ovine Collagen – Phase 1

Currently the bulk of the global collagen market is largely serviced by bovine, porcine and marine skin collagen.

Project start date: 09 May 2021
Project end date: 25 November 2021
Publication date: 11 March 2022
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Lamb
Relevant regions: Cold wet, Dry, Mediterranean, Tropical warm season wet, Sub-tropical moist, Sub-tropical sub-humid, Temperate, Temperate sub-humid, Tropical Moist, Tropical wet
Download Report (1.1 MB)


The global collagen market size is expected to reach US $16.7 billion by 2028. Consumer interest in collagen-based products is growing with the nutraceutical collagen market forecasted to account for 40% of collagen product sales in 2025 [J. Green, K. Bryan 2019].
Challenges however exist for sheep producers to achieve full valorisation of their skins. Current commercial collagen manufacturing processes stretch over days, often taking as long as 4-6 weeks or more to process raw skins into a finished collagen hydrolysate product. Apart from the high infrastructure set up and holding costs, the extended processing times means the industry is unable to process the high throughputs required to meet the collagen market demanded.

To overcome this challenge and to enable Australian ovine processors in capturing a significant chunk of the global collagen market, OTH, an innovative Australian industrial technology developer and MLA decided to invest in developing an industrial scalable high throughput ovine hide processing technology that could be adopted by Australian ovine processors

The outcome of this project has been the development of three new proof of concept technologies that enable quick processing of ovine skins, extract not just collagen hydrolysate but also clean intact wool that can be further converted into a high value keratin protein concentrate for application in food, nutraceutical and cosmetic industries


The aim of this project was for Organic Technology Holdings (OTH) to undertake the development of a technology that can achieve high throughput processing and maximal valorisation of Australian ovine skins by the extraction of ovine collagen peptides and generation of clean wool and keratin concentrate. As proof of concept, this included trials at benchtop (1-5 kg batches) and mid-scale (50-100 kg batches) levels.

Key findings

Australia’s natural advantage over other countries in having disease (BSE and prion) free ovine together with consumer trends consistently showing an increasing preference for clean label and safe products, highlight the Australian ovine processing industry can stand to gain significantly if technologies to enable local production of these high value foods are developed and made available to MLA members for implementation. Collagen is one of these high value foods identified by MLA as having the potential to deliver significant value add to Australian ovine processors.

Benefits to industry

Currently the only way ovine producers and processors can generate more revenue and profitability is either to cut costs or growing and processing more sheep or taking advantage of the occasional positive market conditions.
The steady decline in fresh skin prices and inherent market volatility in red meat prices have further increased revenue pressures on ovine processors.

Against this backdrop, the above OTH technologies can enable ovine processors to generate significant additional and sustained revenue without having to grow or process any additional animal. Instead of ovine processors having to dump skins as landfill due to decline in skin prices and incurring losses, OTH technologies can deliver significant profits back to Australia’s ovine producers by enabling high throughput processing of ovine skins within a single shift whilst generating high value and in demand collagen and keratin concentrates for the food, nutraceutical and cosmetic industries.

MLA action

Final version of the public report is to be made available via the MLA website. Opportunities to investigate scale up opportunities should be reviewed and considered.

Future research

The establishment of a laboratory scale process to produce samples for market/consumer validation is now complete.
The next opportunity is to test scale up opportunities for this technology.
Industrial scale up challenges with respect to equipment type, throughput and material transfer will be identified during the Phase 2 research & development. Consequently, the optimal logistics of the raw material flow and its treatment at industrial scale will need to be determined. Chemicals and catalysts will need to be sourced in larger quantities for these mid-scale trials.


For more information

Contact project manager: John Marten